William Howell

HOWELL, MR. WILLIAM P., the Australian bowler, died on July 14, aged 70, at Sydney. No one has made a more sensational first appearance in England than did Bill Howell when, in the third match of Darling's team in 1899, he dismissed the whole Surrey eleven. His analysis, 23.2 overs, 14 maidens, 28 runs, 10 wickets, indicates this exceptional performance as being quite out of the ordinary, no matter what the state of the pitch. As the natural effect of this achievement, Howell, after being left out of the first two engagements, became a regular member of the side. He did little in the five tests, taking only eight wickets at 43 runs apiece, but if unable to live up to such a start, Howell for the whole season came out with a record of 117 wickets at 20.35 apiece, his average placing him between Hugh Trumble and Ernest Jones, who each dismissed more batsmen.

Visiting England with the next two Australian, Howell took fewer wickets but at smaller cost--68 for 17.86 each and 79 for 19.34 each.

He began test cricket by bowling A. C. MacLaren in both the Adelaide matches in the season of 1898-99, when the Lancashire amateur averaged 54. Altogether Howell appeared on sixteen occasions for Australia without accomplishing anything exceptional, though bowling wonderfully well at Melbourne in 1904. At a time when the Australian attack was very strong, his Test record showed 35 wickets at an average cost of 35.57. For New South Wales in Sheffield Shield matches he claimed 159 wickets, Average 23.55.

Of good height and heavily built, Howell made full use of his strong wrist and fingers in spinning the ball at medium pace. Usually, command of length gave him special ability, and he was deadly against batsmen unaware that his simple-looking delivery imparted unexpected life from the pitch. Howell showed this merit for New South Wales in November 1894, when he clean bowled five of A. E. Stoddart's team, including the captain and J. T. Brown, the Yorkshireman, while yielding only 44 runs--a happy introduction to his experiences against English cricketers.

A left-handed batsman, he sometimes startled the bowlers and the crowd by tremendous hitting. A notable case was at Sydney against Stoddart's team in 1898. Going in last for New South Wales, he hit up 48 in three-quarters of an hour and eclipsed this in the second innings with 95 in less than an hour, 76 of these runs coming in boundaries. For the most part in England, as well as in all Test matches, Howell did little with the bat, but in Sheffield Shield matches he averaged 22.86 for an aggregate of 1,029 runs with 128 his best score.

In Test matches against South Africa, Howell took 14 wickets at 12.42 runs apiece. He turned the ball a lot on the matting pitches.

A bee farmer in Penrith, New South Wales, Howell was a local celebrity alike for his cricketing ability and genial character.

© John Wisden & Co